Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Of cabbages and kings

The time has come, the blogger said, to talk of many things.  You guessed it: another potpourri posting.

JAXA, the Japanese space agency, has lost contact with its Venus Climate Orbiter. Perhaps this is only a temporary setback. JAXA's recent success with an asteroid-sample return mission shows what can be accomplished with perseverance (and a fault tolerant design)(and luck).

(This image, if you wondered, is a radar map of Venus composited from data captured by NASA's Magellan probe). 

But wait, there's (much) more!

Among WikiLeak's recent torrent (no pun intended) of diplomatic cables is the allegation from one Chinese source that the Chinese government was behind last January's Google hacks. It's not just the U.S. -- there's plenty of embarrassment to go around. And cause for worry (as former White House national-security adviser Richard Clarke does) about the potential threat of cyber warfare.

As for worries ... do you lie awake at night wondering why the universe supposedly made with matter and antimatter in equal parts hasn't reduced you and your laptop to gamma rays -- and if/when it will? Me neither. Still, it's nice to know people continue to work on that puzzle. An interesting theory (without, AFAIK, any data yet to prove or disprove it) attempts to explain both why we see a universe of just matter and the origins of dark matter. Read on about the (highly theoretical) X particle.  

Following up on my post of November 9 about the mysterious missile(?) contrail near LA, the Pentagon now says "only an airplane.". If you consider "There is no evidence to suggest that this is anything else other than a condensation trail from an aircraft" anything more than a wink-wink, nudge-nudge statement about what they do know. Or that if the cause of the contrail WAS an aircraft, the combined assets of NORAD and the FAA don't know what airplane.

And as for news on the publishing front, Google has finally launched its ebook store.  It supports most formats and devices but Kindle.

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